The Worst Hard Time

The Worst Hard Time

by

Timothy Egan

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Worst Hard Time can help.
An underground house dug out of the earth on the prairie. The floor was dirt and the walls were plank boards “with no insulation on the inside and tarpaper on the outside.” Cow chips burned in an old stove provided heat. The toilet was outside in a hole dug out of the ground, while families hauled in water obtained from a deeper hole in the ground. Those who lived in dugouts tried to avoid snakes and tarantulas crawling around on the dirt floor, and they burned off centipedes living behind the plank boards on the walls. The pest problem increased due to the severe dust storms, but the underground homes protected families from the harsh prairie winds. Unlike aboveground houses, they could not be carried away during wind storms and tornadoes, which were frequent in the plains.

Dugout Quotes in The Worst Hard Time

The The Worst Hard Time quotes below are all either spoken by Dugout or refer to Dugout. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the First Mariner edition of The Worst Hard Time published in 2006.
Chapter 14 Quotes

Keeping the dust out was impossible. Even fresh-cleaned clothes, hanging outside to dry on the line, were at risk [….] Lizzie swept five, six times a day. She had her boys shovel dust in the morning, after it piled up outside the door. Sometimes a big dune blocked the door, and the boys had to crawl out the window to get to it. The dust arrived in mysterious ways. It could penetrate like a spirit, cascading down the walls or slithering along the ceiling until it found an opening.

Related Characters: Melt White, Lizzie White
Page Number: 179
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Worst Hard Time LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Worst Hard Time PDF

Dugout Term Timeline in The Worst Hard Time

The timeline below shows where the term Dugout appears in The Worst Hard Time. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Introduction: Live Through This
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Ike Osteen was one of nine children who grew up in a dugout. His father arrived in Baca County via the old Santa Fe Trail in 1909, when... (full context)
Chapter 2: No Man's Land
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...the realtors selling bits of the XIT ranch had. In 1915, William Carlyle made a dugout and “started plowing the grass on his half-section, a patch of sandy loam.” (full context)
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
...snakes. Then, one afternoon, a strong windstorm came. The Lucas family fled to their old dugout. The next day, Hazel poked her head above ground and saw their home being carried... (full context)
Westward Expansion and the Settlement of the Southern Plains Theme Icon
...its size. He wrote to her, then built a more comfortable home—two rooms above his dugout. Will went away for a week and returned married to Sadie. They moved into the... (full context)
Chapter 8: In a Dry Land
Economic Hardship and Lessons of the Great Depression Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...County, it was 115 degrees Fahrenheit one day. The heat was unbearable in the Osteen dugout. Ike’s mother had the idea of cooling the dugout with water from the well. Ike... (full context)
Chapter 16: Black Sunday
Anglo Culture and Racism Theme Icon
Environmental Devastation and the Dust Bowl Theme Icon
...Ike Osteen “had a burst of energy” and used it to do chores around the dugout. The family garden was covered in a dust drift. In a few places, he found... (full context)